Fasano to Scott: Redistricting Amendments the 'People's Will'
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Gov. Rick Scott pulled back a request to the U.S. Justice Department to review constitutional amendments 5 and 6 earlier this month, but is taking heat for the move from one member of his own party.
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, was against the amendments designed to prevent gerrymandering when the Legislature attempts to redraw congressional and legislative districts in 2012. But that was then.
Fasano sent a letter to Scott on Wednesday asking him to reverse his decision to pull the federal review because the amendments passed with more than 60 percent of the vote in the midterm elections.
It's the will of the people, he said.
“Just as you and many other elected officials made it into office with a majority of the vote, as the rules required, the adoption of these amendments occurred just as the rules required. I would greatly appreciate it if you would consider resuming the federal review of the amendments so that the state can move forward with incorporating them into the Constitution (and allowing the reapportionment process to proceed according to the people’s will),” the letter reads.
The Voting Rights Act requires judicial review of laws that affect voting. Then-Gov. Charlie Crist sent the amendments, known as “Fair Districts,” to the Justice Department for review and pre-clearance before leaving office.
Fasano’s sentiment, however, is not universally shared among his fellow senators. Senate President Mike Haridopolos appears chagrined at his letter, noting that Fasano originally requested to be on the Senate Reapportionment Committee but later withdrew his request -- and he remained noncommittal about Scott’s move.
“He did not consult with me -- and he has every right to do that,” Haridopolos told reporters Wednesday.
Haridopolos criticized the amendments as impractical measures that will inevitably lead to costly litigation, but said the Legislature will follow the law. Amendments 5 and 6 restrict lawmakers from drawing boundaries that favor or disfavor incumbents, or racial or language minorities.
“The cost to us as far as to the taxpayers is going to be astronomical,” Haridopolos said.
The “Fair Districts” amendments are already under duress in the form of a lawsuit filed by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, attacking them as unconstitutional. The Florida House of Representatives asked to join the lawsuit this week, but Haridopolos was mum on whether the Senate would make a similar request.
“The voters have spoken and we’re going to do our best to follow the federal and state laws,” Haridopolos said.
Despite the difference over the "Fair Districts" amendments, Haridopolos maintained he has a “very good relationship” with Fasano, not chiding him for his media-friendly approach.
“Everyone has their own style. I respect his style, it's served him well,” Haridopolos said.
Reach Gray Rohrer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.